Every year in Douglas County, Kansas, dozens of children ages 0-18 are removed from their homes and placed under court protection for their own safety. Some of these children are victims of violence, psychological torment, and sexual abuse. Others have been neglected or abandoned. They are confused, frightened and uncertain about their future. Many are placed in foster care. Douglas County CASA is dedicated to making sure these children get the attention they deserve. With the help of specially trained volunteers, Court Appointed Special Advocates, we advocate for the best interests of these vulnerable children. Douglas County CASA helps children find safe, permanent and loving homes.
Erick has served as a licensed social worker with a specialization in administrative and advocacy practice for over 14 years. Throughout his career, Erick has always supported programs that serve children. Coming to Douglas County CASA as their new Executive Director in July 2019 has felt like coming home, bringing together his experiences related to program design and evaluation, early childhood, mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare. Erick lives in Lawrence with his wife and daughter.
Carol brings administrative skills honed over the years in the business, legal, and nonprofit fields, and is delighted to be a part of a hard-working group dedicated to the betterment of the lives of vulnerable children of Douglas County. In addition to mingling with the corps of stalwart volunteers, staff members, and Board members who make this agency’s mission a reality for these children, Carol also enjoys crewel embroidery, gardening, rabbits, reading, horses, and the occasional opera.
Sarah grew up in Western Massachusetts, earned a BA at Washington University in St. Louis, an MA at the University of Illinois Chicago, and lived in several other cities across the U.S. before arriving in Lawrence in 2016. Her years as a stay-at-home mom showed her how critical it is to encourage children from all backgrounds to share their voices and she has been fortunate to channel her passion for bringing people together, sharing information and making things happen into CASA’s fundraising and communications efforts since joining the agency in February 2020. In addition to her work, Sarah is equally enthusiastic about weightlifting, historical fiction, marathon conversations with her philosopher husband and attempting to coax her boys out onto the hiking trails.
A native Kansan and KU graduate, Susan served several years as a CASA volunteer before becoming a Advocate Coordinator in 2012. Prior to joining the CASA staff, she worked in a variety of capacities in state government including policy liaison for the Senate Minority Office and the Governor’s office and the Deputy Secretary of Appointments. Her work at CASA has allowed her to see how state policy decisions have a direct impact on the lives of children and families at the local level. Working with so many incredible volunteers and staff at CASA, who are dedicated to making other people’s lives better, has been the highlight of her career. When not working, Susan and her husband spend time with their five children and eight amazing grandchildren.
Margie grew up in suburban Kansas City and has been living in Lawrence since her days as an undergraduate at KU. She majored in secondary education and stayed at KU to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate. Before coming to CASA in 2015, most of her professional work was in education, and she has taught at every level from pre-kindergarten to the post graduate level. After staying home to raise her three unbelievable children and working as a freelance writer, she returned to the real world, which she defined as having to get dressed every day. While the work CASA does to advocate for the community’s most vulnerable population can be emotionally draining, working with a talented group of coworkers and an exceptional group of volunteers keeps her buoyed.
Amy’s background is in law and social work. Prior to coming to CASA, she worked in a variety of settings, including as a home study provider for families adopting children with special needs for Kansas Children’s Service League, as an assistant research professor at the Beach Center on Families & Disability at the University of Kansas, and as an assistant revisor at the Kansas Revisor of Statutes Office. Amy is passionate about advocating for children and families so that policymakers and service providers are more responsive to their needs. CASA has been an ideal place for her to utilize and expand her knowledge and skills. When she’s not working, Amy enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her two adult daughters.
Carolyn comes from a very large Italian family and has loved children since she started mothering her little brothers. She is a licensed attorney and retired from teaching law part-time at KU in 2019. Joining CASA in 1991 fulfilled a lifelong desire to work in the realm of child welfare. Carolyn lives in Lawrence with her husband Paul. They have two adult daughters and who live nearby. Carolyn loves being Nana to little Amelia and enjoys attending concerts with family and friends.
A Northwest Arkansas native, Scharla moved to Lawrence in 2012. She worked as a teaching assistant at KU while completing her MA in History and a graduate certificate in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. After graduating, Scharla became involved in the nonprofit sector, primarily through Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Kansas, where she served in leadership roles from 2015 to 2020. Scharla joined Douglas County CASA, Inc. as a Volunteer Advocate in 2018, where she found a passion for child welfare and advocacy. She transitioned from volunteer to staff member in September 2020 and enjoys collaborating with co-workers and volunteers on difficult case issues. Scharla lives in Lawrence with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.